A Hundred Gourds 5:1 December 2015

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Glenn G. Coats - USA

A Burst of Sound

Our captain guides his boat toward gulls feeding on the surface while fishermen nap on benches between stops. There have been few blues coming over the railing and everyone seems dazed by the bright sun. “Not a fast boat,” one of the men says, “just gets us where we need to be.”

My father and I put down our poles, share a sandwich, and drink some cold soda. He believes that you catch more fish when there is a breeze, thinks the movement of the boat makes the baits come alive. “Move your rod up and down,” he tells me. “Make one of the big ones mad enough to bite.”

Mid-afternoon. The captain apologizes for the slow fishing, promises things will pick-up tomorrow when the weather cools. He blows the horn twice and heads toward the inlet. I curl up on a bench; try to get some sleep before we reach the dock.

I wake to loud voices, the clamor of feet, and a dark sky. There is a rush into the cabin as rain pounds the boat, not enough room inside for all of us. I see my father’s face through a porthole. “Hang on to something boys,” the captain yells. “This one could get nasty.” Waves are soon as high as the boat; each one soaks us to the bone. Fishing rods and tackle run up and down the deck. I grip a bench; hang on with all of my might until the storm passes.

Evening. My clothes are wet on the drive home, neck and arms stiff from clinging tightly to the bench and getting knocked about. My father says my grandfather experienced a similar squall. After that he always found excuses not to return to the sea, and he could feel the waves—even on dry land.

edge of the surf
the in and out wash
of minnows

baptisms in the sea
light flashes
on an osprey’s wing

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